The focus of tonight’s tutorial was on Lesson Study (LS) as a way of improving teaching and learning of mathematics. Dr Yeap illustrated the LS process through how Fuchun Primary carried out their lesson study.
LS is a teaching improvement process that originates in Japanese elementary schools. It is a professional development process designed to help teachers produce quality lesson plans and gain a better understanding of students learning. The process involves a group of teachers working collaboratively as a LS team, who will meet regularly to plan, design, implement, evaluate and refine lessons for a unit of work. To provide a focus and direction to this LS, the teachers select an overarching goal and related research question that they want to explore. This research question then served to guide the teachers in their LS in areas such as, how to foster and improve students’ thinking when they do mathematics.
While working on LS, teachers work collaboratively to plan detailed lesson, which will be used by one of the teachers to teach in a real classroom with the rest as observers. LS provides teachers with an opportunity to observe a life teaching and learning lesson. It allows teachers to carefully examine students’ learning and understanding process by observing and discussing actual classroom practices. The team will then come together to discuss their observations of the lesson. Quite often, the group will revise the lesson, and another teacher will implement the revised lesson in a second classroom. The rest of the teachers will take the role of observers and the group will come together again to discuss the observed instruction. Finally, the teachers will produce a report of what their study lessons have taught them, with respect to their research questions.
Dr Yeap emphasised that Lesson Study is a facilitation tool used in Professional Learning Communities and the three big ideas in a PLC are:
(a) ensuring that students learn
(b) building a culture of collaboration and
(c) focusing on students’ learning outcomes.
The four critical questions that are the focal point in a PLC are :
- What is it we expect students to learn?
- How will we know when they have learned it?
- How will we respond when they don’t learn?
- How will we respond when they already know it?
One of the benefits of LS is that, it ‘forces’ teachers to examine their own practice in depth with regards to student learning and how they can engage their students effectively. In this way teachers are inspired to improve their pedagogical approaches continually as they are actively involved in the process of instructional change and curriculum development. This on-going teacher-led professional development focus on teachers taking the initiative to continuously seek and share learning and then act on what they learn. The goal of their actions is to enhance their effectiveness as professionals so that students benefit.